Per Matt
Since the spooky season has already begun, I’ve got to make up for the lost time. Shock Docs: Ghosts of Flight 401 is My Guilty Pleasure!

Ghostober is back and I’m finally getting around to one of my favorite Halloween traditions: Getting into the mood of the month with something supernatural. Travel Channel has done a pretty good job with its Shock Docs series, and this one is no different. Opening with a viewer discretion warning of impending graphic depictions and the aftermath of the Eastern Flight 401 tragedy, the audience is introduced to “one of the greatest supernatural mysteries of all time.”

On December 29th, 1972, the airplane crashed into the Florida Everglades, killing 101 people aboard, initially attributed to instrumentation issues, but it was also caused by pilot error. At the time it was the biggest crash in U.S. history, and 50 years later, there are still abnormal events attributed to the incident. Cue paranormal investigator Steve Shippy and psychic medium Cindy Kazaa to get to the bottom of it all.

Employing an airboat, the team records some EVPs on the levee where the plane apparently touched down, but there’s more. Speaking to some of the survivors, the flight’s timeline is filled in, but there was also an alleged corporate coverup. Salvaged parts from the crash site were repurposed, used on a variety of different running planes, which later reported paranormal incidents. Could the parts be haunted? We may never know the truth, as Eastern Air Lines removed any evidence the flight crews may have experienced in the planes’ manifest, but we do get some first-hand accounts of on-board sightings.

As our team deals with the dark, alligators and pythons, some trigger objects are used to explore the pending grief and pain that haunts this land (and its people). As they realize truth is stranger than fiction, a pattern emerges: A second crash, Valujet Flight 592, happened 24 years after Eastern’s demise less than a mile away and a third, involving U.S. Navy Flight 19, happened in the swamp not too far away, which somehow leads them to the Coral Castle. Could a vortex have somehow caused these three wrecks, which is also keeping these spirits trapped on Earth?

I mean, anything is possible, especially since the Bermuda Triangle is located just off the coast of Everglades.

While discovering some pretty interesting elements, nothing concrete is resolved, other than all three flights were done in by equipment errors. It is pretty cool that this was the first time the public was allowed to hear the final dialogue of the flight’s black box.

I’m still a fan of the Travel Channel — especially during Ghostober! — but the initial Shock Docs were mainly true-life stories told through archive news footage and recreations. The later releases focus too much time on current-day investigations into the cases, which takes away a certain mystique from the overall package. I prefer seeing Shippy and Kazaa in their own separate series, seeking answers to the unknown… just not in these famous cases.

The truth may still be out there, somewhere, and I hope the survivors’ families can rest a little easier after all these years… Happy Ghostober, everyone!